Life & Style Shoot….

I am officially back in the States from 3 glorious weeks of food, fun and frolicking. I can’t explain how amazing and wonderful this vacation was, not only because it was my longest to date, it involved the wedding of a dear college friend but it also marked the first time one of my projects got published!

Woot! I can officially say that one of my projects has been published! I was lucky enough to work with Ben Flajnik of “The Bachelor” fame to pull together his San Francisco apartment. The process was documented by Life and Style magazine for its current issue on stands (the one with Robert Pattinson on the cover). I can say I can officially start to enjoy seeing my company’s name in print…

However, I would be remiss not to thank Erin Hiemstra of Apartment 34 fame for brokering the project and serving as stylist for the shoot. Her keen eye was essential for pulling all the pieces I had chosen together for the shots. I also must give a shout out to all the vendors who worked tireless with our immensely short deadline to pull the room together. Major thanks to Z Gallerie, HD Buttercup, Big Daddy Antiques, Milk Glass Vintage Rentals, Ron Kisling Photography, CB2 and Crate and Barrel.

Who would have thought that when I officially launched Courtney Lake Interiors this year, that I would have such amazing tales to tell by year’s end. I feel truly blessed and encouraged. Sadly, the one thing I don’t feel is energized at the moment – jet lag is a mutha! However, I have no time to complain – I just booked two more gigs for Fall and am pulling together a tablescape for a photoshoot – yuppers folks, one of my tablescapes is being photographed for publication. As I said, it is raining over here and I am positively giddy that I am being drenched!

So tell me, how is August shaping up for you?

Want more? Check me out on Facebook, Twitter and Insta.gram (CourtneyOutLoud) for musings on design, food and just plain randomness.

Recap: Bright & Light New Year’s Day Brunch Table Setting

During the winter months, I crave brightness.  Some people call it seasonal affective disorder or some other fancy name, but I just know that by the end of December, I want bright, light and cheery.  This need has manifested itself in different ways throughout my life ranging from an inherit need to dress in bright patterns during the winter months to turning on every light in the house come dusk.  Fortunately for my electric bill, this year manifested in a need to create a bold and lively table setting for our anticipated New Year’s Day brunch.

Since most of our friends are parents of infants, a night of partying isn’t in the cards anymore. Instead, this year we have opted for a low-key New Year’s Day brunch.  The gathering is low-key, informal social gathering where we all wear jeans, the wee ones are fed and placed to play on the shag rug and the occasional tiny dog or two a sneaked a treat of breakfast sausage under the table.  The brunch is my idealized concept of effortless perfection and  I wanted the table to reflect this mellow vibe.   Think mellow but still fun as it’s still a party (even if sparkling cider is subbed for champagne for some members of the group).  After all, it is the first “official” social gathering of our friends, so we have to set the tone for the remainder of the year!

To achieve this feeling, I opted to go with a  non-traditional color palette – colors you would not typically find on a holiday table.  Don’t get me wrong – I am a dude who loves all things shiny and silver.  But when I tried it out a color scheme like that, it felt too stuffy for a brunch.  So I opted for a palette that was zippy and straight out of a Technicolor dream: turquoise, purple and orange.  This color scheme allowed me to do two things: (1) fulfill my innate  need for punchy colors and (2) mix pieces from my collection that don’t necessarily “match”.

What I ended up with was a super-saturated table setting that let me run a bit wild.  It’s fun,  bright and I think I may have my first table setting “crush”…….

Here is a breakdown of the items used:

Tablecloth: 90in round cotton Crate & Barrel
Napkins: Pier One
Dishes: Plate and salad plate are from Anthropologie
Champagne Flutes: Clearance pieces from Ross Dress For Less
Juice Glasses: Pressed antique glass
Silverware: A combination of antique mother of pearl pieces & every day stainless steel flatware
Flower vases: Ikea drinking glasses
Centerpiece: Dollar Store, found branches and holiday ornaments & keepsakes
Mercury Candle Holders: Michael’s Craft
Tea lights: Ikea

Tomorrow, I will highlight the “big sister” version of this table setting……

PS: You can get a sneak peek of the Big Sister version if you visit the lovely ladies over at Living Livelier!

Hostess Gifts: Stuff They Actually Want…..

I am not one for formality, but I think some traditions should be respected.  For example, I think it is appropriate when invited to someone’s home to bring a small token of appreciation.   A host(ess) gift is meant to convey your thanks to your host/hostess for their hard work in preparation for your visit.  However, wine can only say “thanks” so many times so with Thanksgiving less than two weeks away, I thought it might be nice to look at some alternative gifts that might get you an extra helping of dessert.

Cleopatra Candle by Tocca

Scented Candles: Okay, I know that a scented candle is not that exciting, but I would be quite happy to receive the Cleopatra candle by Tocca.  A sweet yet soothing smell of grapefruit and cucumber is the perfect gift to give your frazzled host after a long day of cooking and entertaining.

You can get the Cleopatra candle from

Fleur de sel Caramels

Hot Cocoa Mix

Homemade Gifts: I love homemade candy and it’s even better if I don’t have to make it.  Receiving a homemade gift from one of my guests is the ultimate and in turn, I love giving homemade gifts.  Two of my favorite things to give are fleur de sel caramels and hot cocoa mix.  To jazz things up, I like to give the cocoa mix with two antique teacups in a small gift bag.  You can typically find unique mismatched tea cups for less than a $1 at Goodwill or an antique store.  Click here for the hot cocoa recipe I have found to work best.   As for the fleur de sel caramels, I have my own secret recipe, but this caramel recipe from Ina Garten is excellent in its own right.

Blooming Paperwhites

Flowers: I love fresh flowers as much as the next person but they can make a really predictable gift.  However, why not jazz things up slightly with a pot of paperwhites?  Decorate a small terra cotta pot or find an inexpensive glass container from a resale shop, decorate as you see fit and force the bulbs.  While not practical in all situations, a pot of paperwhites around the holidays would be an unexpected and beautiful gift that will last way longer than any flowers from the $9.99 bin at Trader Joes.  At a cost of about $6 for 6 bulbs, you can plant two or three groupings in pots starting now and have stunning gifts come Christmas.  You can purchase a variety of paperwhite bulbs from Willow Creek online or you can swing by Home Depot who is currently selling a kit.

Colorful Tea Towels

Tea Towels: I can’t seem to  have enough dish towels in my kitchen.  Whenever I think I have enough, I tend to destroy one thus always keeping me in a constant state of imbalance.  No longer confined to dreary white, tea towels like the ones above are the perfect shot of color or pattern to a household.  I am particularly in love with the  Working Class Studio Collection on  This set of two in Gecko above would be the perfect addition to my collection, especially at only $10!

Cheese Tools from Crate & Barrel

Cheese Tools: Somehow I  always end up losing cheese knives when I bring a cheese plate to a dinner party, so if I received a set of knifes/tools as a host gift, I would be quite happy.  This stainless steel set from Crate and Barrel is under $20 and paired with one of your favorite cheeses, would make a fabulous gift for the hostess with the mostess!

With some simple planning and not a ton of cash, you can get host(ess) gifts that will impress!  I wanna hear what you bring as a hostess gift.  Leave a comment and there just may be something special from Santa in your mailbox.  In addition, check back for my selection of holiday gifts for your fussy tween niece & nephew, your hard to please parents and your techno-challenged grandparents!